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Old 09-15-2011, 08:36 AM   #1
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GFI Nuisance Trips


Hello,

First, some background:

* I just bought a house from the bank.
* It was built in 2008.
* Forces of Evil removed all the appliances and the HVAC. They
also removed all the bathroom light fixtures, some of the blinds,
and the shower heads.
* I have been restoring it for about a month now.

Now the problem.

I came out yesterday to work on the house, and found that all the
GFI breakers in the main panel had tripped.

How to troubleshoot? I am an electronic technician, and I do understand the principal of the GFI - it compares the currents through the neutral and hot, and at some small difference, it shuts off the breaker.

I do not however believe that this was caused by leakage, because they ALL tripped. Can transients or surges on the main line cause tripping?

The house does have a lot of fluorescents, but nobody was home, so they weren't being turned on or off.

There is some construction down the street, and they have been tearing up the curbs to get utilities to that new house. Possibly a momentary power outage due to the construction?

Thanks in advance,

- JerryK

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Old 09-15-2011, 08:46 AM   #2
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GFI Nuisance Trips


Are you sure you're dealing with GFCI breakers and not AFCI breakers. AFCI breakers are far more common for that vintage. An AFCI tries to detect dangerous conditions that could lead to a fire while a GFCI tries to prevent electrocution.

Post the band and model number and date of manufacture of the breakers and/or take a picture.

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Old 09-15-2011, 08:51 AM   #3
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fluorescents are not going to trip a GFCI or AFCI in of themselves.
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Old 09-15-2011, 08:51 AM   #4
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If there was a electric outage, no the breakers would not trip. You are over thinking this, due to you stated that you are an electronics technician. Look at it from the simplest view point. If they are tripped, and not resetting, try another breaker of the same type, and for that particular panel, to use as a test. If that one trips, then time to check all of the junction boxes.

My fair guess is as you stated the previous home owners went wild and pretty much vandalized the home, that would right then and there bring up a big red flag. Fix all of the fixtures, replace all of the light switches and outlets, and see if the breakers reset. If they do, you found out why they tripped.
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Old 09-15-2011, 08:53 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eek View Post
Are you sure you're dealing with GFCI breakers and not AFCI breakers. AFCI breakers are far more common for that vintage. An AFCI tries to detect dangerous conditions that could lead to a fire while a GFCI tries to prevent electrocution.

Post the band and model number and date of manufacture of the breakers and/or take a picture.
If the house was built in 2008, it is more likely to be under the 2005. Few areas immediately adopt the new cycle.
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Old 09-15-2011, 09:32 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gregzoll View Post
If there was a electric outage, no the breakers would not trip. You are over thinking this, due to you stated that you are an electronics technician. Look at it from the simplest view point.
*** The fly in the "simple" ointment is - all four GFI breakers had tripped.
Now, I suppose it's possible that there could be four different problems - one in each circuit - that caused it's associateed GFI to trip - all four - on the same day. I'm not much for coincidences though.

And when I reset them, they all stayed reset.

I was back at the house today. Everything was still on. The load center is Square-D. I couldn't see any model # on the breakers - generally
such is on the side, which you can't see without popping the front plate.

I shall wait & see what happens. If they don't trip anymore I won't worry about it. I might test my theory about the power interruption - I can simulate such with the main breaker.

- JerryK
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Old 09-16-2011, 07:01 AM   #7
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What color Test and Reset buttons are on the breakers?
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Old 09-16-2011, 07:14 AM   #8
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Quote:
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What color Test and Reset buttons are on the breakers?
Op was asked and did not reply. 4 GFCI breakers in a house built in 2008 is doubtful. He seems to think playing with main breaker is going solve something.
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Old 09-16-2011, 07:53 AM   #9
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Quote:
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What color Test and Reset buttons are on the breakers?
*** Each breaker has a white test button. There is no reset button, just the bat handle on the breaker.

- Jerry
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Old 09-16-2011, 08:17 AM   #10
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I have had a severe thunderstorm trip many of gfci in my house once.

Just a thought
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Old 09-16-2011, 09:23 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jerryk1234 View Post
*** Each breaker has a white test button. There is no reset button, just the bat handle on the breaker.

- Jerry
The white button is on the combination AFCI, not a GFI breaker.
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Old 09-16-2011, 09:44 AM   #12
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Quote:
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The white button is on the combination AFCI, not a GFI breaker.
*** Thanks. I was just reading about those. I'm glad they're not GFI breakers. The relaxation of the ground fault current from 5mA to 50 was IMHO a good thing. The house does have GFI sockets at all the usual places.

- JerryK
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Old 09-16-2011, 09:56 AM   #13
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Quote:
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Op was asked and did not reply. 4 GFCI breakers in a house built in 2008 is doubtful. He seems to think playing with main breaker is going solve something.
*** No, the OP does not think that playing with the main breaker is going to "solve" anything. He merely proposes it as a diagnostic step. He wonders what could cause all four breakers to pop at the same time ( at least before the same visit to the house ). He does not think that shotgunning the situation by replacing multiple breakers is a good idea.
He believes that the problem is something shared by all four breakers.

The upstream circuit feeds all four breakers. Another thing shared by all four breakers is the general construction of the house. Shared neutrals?

I already found one electrical problem that was there since the house was built; there is a gas fireplace controlled by a wall switch. It didn't work. It didn't work because the wall switch was miswired. They used a four conductor cable ( this is a 3V control circuit ). At the switch, they
used the white and green wires. Back at the fireplace, they used the white and red wires. So the switch was not really connected, and it never could have worked. Since the house was built.

- JerryK
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Old 09-16-2011, 09:58 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbfan View Post
I have had a severe thunderstorm trip many of gfci in my house once.

Just a thought
*** The weather has been mild. Warm days and cool nights. Marine stratus in the mornings. No thunderstorms. They are quite rare out here.
I'm thinking more about construction than thunderstorms. Contractors
have been tearing up the street to get at utilities for that new house.

- JerryK
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Old 09-16-2011, 10:04 AM   #15
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GFI Nuisance Trips


That would be a possibility if the POCO has been out there.

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